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Commentary :: International
Coup D'Etat Rumblings in Venezuela
20 Nov 2007
The Bush administration tried and failed three prior times to oust Hugo Chavez since its first aborted two-day coup attempt in April, 2002. Through FOIA requests, lawyer, activist and author Eva Golinger uncovered top secret CIA documents of US involvement that included an intricate financing scheme involving the quasi-governmental agency, National Endowment of Democracy (NED), and US Agency for International Development (USAID). The documents also showed the White House, State Department and National Security Agency had full knowledge of the scheme, had to have approved it, and there's little doubt of CIA involvement as it's always part of this kind of dirty business. What's worrying now is what went on then may be happening again in what looks like a prelude to a fourth made-in-Washington attempt to oust the Venezuelan leader that must be monitored closely as events develop.

LISTEN TO VENEZUELA'S CONSTITUTIONAL REFERENDUM ON DECEMBER 2nd LIVE:
http://radiovenezuelaenvivo.blogspot.com/
constitucion-bolivariana.jpg
Since he took office in February, 1999, and especially after George Bush's election, Chavez has been a US target, and this time he believes credible sources point to a plot to assassinate him. That information comes from Alimamy Bakarr Sankoh, president of the Hugo Chavez International-Foundation for Peace, Friendship & Solidarity (HCI-FPFS) in a November 11 press release. Sankoh supports Chavez as "a man of peace and flamboyant champion of human dignity (who persists in his efforts in spite of) growing US blackmail, sabotage and political blasphemy."

HCI-FPFS sources revealed the plot's code name - "Operation Cleanse Venezuela" that now may be unfolding ahead of the December 2 referendum on constitutional reforms. According to Sankoh, the scheme sounds familiar - CIA and other foreign secret service operatives (including anti-Castro terrorists) aiming to destabilize the Chavez government by using "at least three concrete subversive plans" to destroy the country's social democracy and kill Chavez.

It involves infiltrating subversive elements into the country, inciting opposition within the military, ordering region-based US forces to shoot down any aircraft used by Chavez, employing trained snipers with shoot to kill orders, and having the dominant US and Venezuelan media act as supportive attack dogs. Chavez is targeted because he represents the greatest of all threats to US hegemony in the region - a good example that's spreading. Venezuela also has Latin America's largest proved oil reserves at a time supplies are tight and prices are at all-time highs.

Sankoh calls Washington-directed threats "real" and to "be treated seriously" to avoid extending Bush's Middle East adventurism to Latin America. He calls for support from the region and world community to denounce the scheme and help stop another Bush administration regime change attempt.

More information on a possible coup plot also came from a November 13 Party for Socialism and Liberation article headlined "New US plots against the Venezuelan Revolution." It states Tribuna Popular (the Communist Party of Venezuela) and Prensa Latina (the Latin American News Agency) reported: "Between Oct. 7 and Oct 9, high-ranking US officials met in Prague, Czech Republic, with parts of the Venezuelan opposition (where they were) urged to convene social uprisings, sabotage the economy and infrastructure, destroy the food transportation chain and plan a military coup." It said Paul Wolfowitz and Madeleine Albright attended along with Humberto Celli, "a well-known coup-plotter from the Venezuelan party Accion Democratica."

The article further reported Tibisay Lucena, The National Electoral Council chairman, said the Venezuelan corporate media was "stoking a mood of violence amongst right-wing students" through a campaign of agitprop, and Hermann Escarra from the "pro-coup" Comando Nacional de la Resistencia openly incited "rebellion" last August and then called for constitutional changes to be stopped "through all means possible."

The Venezuelan news agency, Diaria VEA, also weighed in saying "anonymous students planned on committing acts of destabilization" as the December 2 vote approaches. Venezuelan Radio Trans Mundial provided proof with a recorded video of a youth dumping gasoline into an armored vehicle, ramming metal barricades into police on top of other vehicles, and knocking them from their roofs and hoods onto the ground.

The Threat of Street Protest Violence

For weeks, protests with sporadic violence have been on Venezuela's streets as anti-Chavistas use middle and upper class students as imperial tools to destabilize the government and disrupt the constitutional process. The aim is to discredit and oust the Chavez government and return the country to its ugly past with Washington and local oligarchs in charge and the neoliberal model reinstated.

Venezuela's Foreign Minister, Nicolas Maduro, weighed in on this on November 8. He accused Washington of meddling by staging violent Caracas street protests against proposed constitutional reforms to extend the country's participatory social democracy. Referring to a November 7 shootout at Caracas' Central University, he said: "We don't have any doubt that the government of the United States has their hands in the scheme that led to the ambush yesterday" that Chavez calls a "fascist offensive." Several students were wounded on the streets from a clash between pro and anti-Chavez elements.

"We know the whole scheme," Maduro added, and he should as it happened before in 2002, again during the disruptive 2002-03 oil management lockout, and most often as well when elections are held to disrupt the democratic process. These are standard CIA operating tactics used many times before for 50 years in the Agency's efforts to topple independent leaders and kill them. Chavez understands what's happening, and he's well briefed and alerted by his ally, Fidel Castro, who survived over 600 US attempts to kill him since 1959. He's now 81 and very much alive but going through a difficult recovery from major surgery 15 months ago.

Chavez has widespread popular support throughout the region and from allies like Ecuador's Raphael Correa and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega who expressed his "solidarity with the revolutionary people of Venezuela and our friend Hugo Chavez, who is being subjected to aggression from a counterrevolution fed by the traitors from inside the country and by the empire (referring to the US)." He compared the situation to his own country where similar efforts are being "financed by the United States Embassy" in Managua to support elements opposed to his Sandinista government even though it's very accommodative to Washington.

Even Brazil's Lula chimed in by calling Chavez's proposed reforms consistent with Venezuela's democratic norms, and he added: "Please, invent anything to criticize Chavez, except for lack of democracy."

Constitutional Reform As A Pretext for Protests

Washington's goal from all this is clear, but why now? Last July, Chavez announced he'd be sending Venezuela's National Assembly (AN) a proposed list of constitutional reforms to debate, consider and vote on. Under Venezuelan law, the President, National Assembly or 15% of registered voters (by petition) may propose constitutional changes. Under articles 342, 343, 344 and 345, they must then be debated three times in the legislature, amended if needed, and then submitted to a vote that requires a two-thirds majority to pass. Finally within 30 days, the public gets the last word, up or down, in a national referendum. It represents the true spirit of democracy that's unimaginable in the US where elitists control everything, elections are a sham, and the people have no say.

That was true for Venezuela earlier, but no longer. In its history, there have been 26 Constitutions since its first in 1821, but none like the 1999 Bolivarian one under Chavez that's worlds apart from the others. It created a model participatory social democracy that gave all citizens the right to vote it up or down by national referendum and then empowered them (or the government) later on to petition for change.

On August 15, Chavez did that by submitting 33 suggested amendment reforms to the Constitution's 350 articles and explained it this way: The 1999 Constitution needed updating because it's "ambiguous (and) a product of that moment. The world (today) is very different from (then). (Reforms are) essential for continuing the process of revolutionary transition" to deepen and broaden Venezuelan democracy. That's his central aim - to create a "new geometry of power" for the people along with more government accountability to them.

Proposed reforms will have little impact on the nation's fundamental political structure. They will, however, change laws with regard to politics, the economy, property, the military, the national territory as well as the culture and society and will deepen the country's social democracy.

The National Assembly (AN) completed its work on November 2 adding 25 additional articles to Chavez's proposal plus another 11 changes for a total of 69 articles that amend one-fifth of the nation's Constitution. The most important ones include:

-- extending existing constitutional law that guarantees human rights and recognizes the country's social and cultural diversity;

-- building a "social economy" to replace the failed neoliberal Washington Consensus model;

-- officially prohibiting monopolies and unjust consolidation of economic resources;

-- extending presidential terms from six to seven years;

-- allowing unlimited presidential reelections so that option is "the sovereign decision of the constituent people of Venezuela" and is a similar to the political process in countries like England, France, Germany and Australia;

-- strengthening grassroots communal councils, increasing their funding, and promoting more of them;

-- lowering the eligible voting age from 18 to 16;

-- guaranteeing free university education to the highest level;

-- prohibiting foreign funding of elections and political activity;

-- reducing the work week to 36 hours to promote more employment;

-- ending the autonomy of Venezuela's Central Bank to reclaim the country's financial sovereignty the way it should be everywhere; today nearly all central banks are controlled by private for-profit banking cartels; Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul wants to end that status in the US and correctly explains the Federal Reserve Bank is neither federal nor does it have reserves; it's owned and run by Wall Street and the major banks;

-- adding new forms of collective property under five categories: public for the state, social for citizens, collective for people or social groups, mixed for public and private, and private for individuals or private entities;

-- territorial redefinition to distribute resources more equitably to communities instead of being used largely by economic and political elites;

-- prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination and enacting gender parity rights for political candidates;

-- redefining the military as an "anti-imperialist popular entity;"

-- in cases where property is appropriated for the public good, fair and timely compensation to be paid for it;

-- protecting the loss of one's home in cases of bankruptcy; and

-- enacting social security protection for the self-employed.

The National Assembly also approved 15 important transitional dispositions. They relate to how constitutional changes will be implemented if approved until laws are passed to regulate them. One provision is for the legislature to pass 15 so-called "organic laws" that include the following ones:

-- a law on "popular power" to govern grassroots communal councils (that may number 50,000 by year end) that Chavez called "one of the central ideas....to open, at the constitutional level, the roads to accelerate the transfer of power to the people (in an) Explosion of Communal (or popular) Power;" five percent of state revenues will be set aside to fund it;

-- another promoting a socialist economy for the 21st century that Chavez champions even though he remains friendly to business; and

-- one relating to the country's territorial organization; plus others on education, a shorter workweek and more democratic changes.

Under Venezuelan law, and in the true spirit of democracy, these proposed changes will be for citizens to vote up or down on December 2. The process will be in two parts reversing an earlier decision to do it as one package, yea or nay. One part will be Chavez's 33 reforms plus 13 National Assembly additions, and the other for the remaining 23 articles.

Coup D'Etat Rumblings Must Be Taken Seriously

Now battle lines are drawn, opposition forces are mobilized and events are playing out violently on Venezuela's streets. The worst so far was on November 7 when CNN falsely reported "80,000" anti-Chavez students demonstrated "peacefully" in Caracas to denounce "Hugo Chavez's attempts to expand his power." The actual best estimates put it between 2000 and 10,000, and long-time Latin American expert James Petras calls the protesters "privileged middle and upper middle class university students," once again being used as an imperial tool.

In their anti-government zeal, CNN and other dominant media ignore the many pro-Chavez events writer Fred Fuentes calls a "red hurricane" sweeping the country. An impressive one was held on November 4 when the President addressed hundreds of thousands of supporters who participated in an 8.5 kilometer Caracas march while similar pro-reform rallies took place at the same time around the country. They're the start of a "yes" campaign for a large December 2 turnout that's vital as polls show strong pro-reform support by a near two to one margin.

In an effort to defuse it, orchestrated opposition turned violent and officials reported eight people were injured in the November 7 incident. No one was killed, but one was wounded by gunfire when at least "four (masked) gunmen (who looked like provocateur plants, not students) fir(ed) handguns at the anti-Chavez crowd." In an earlier October demonstration, opposition students clashed with police who kept them from reaching the National Assembly building and a direct confrontation with pro-Chavez supporters that might have turned ugly.

It did on November 7 when violence erupted between pro and anti-government students, but it wasn't as reported. Venezuelan and US corporate media claimed pro-Chavez supporters initiated the attack. In fact, they WERE attacked by elements opposing the President. They seized this time to act ahead of the referendum to disrupt it and destabilize the government as prelude to a possible planned coup.

One pro-Chavez student explained what happened. She and others were erecting posters supporting a "yes" referendum vote when they were attacked with tear gas and crowds yelling they were going to be lynched. Avila TV had the evidence. Its unedited footage showed an opposition student mob surrounding the School of Social Work area where pro-Chavez students hid for safety. They threw Molotov cocktails, rocks, chairs and other objects, smashed windows, and tried to burn down the building as university authorities (responsible for security) stood aside doing nothing to curtail the violence. Another report was that corporate-owned Univision operatives posing as reporters had guns and accompanied the elements attacking the school in an overt act of complicity by the media.

The pattern now unfolding on Caracas streets is similar to what happened ahead of the April, 2002 aborted coup attempt, and Petras calls it "the most serious threat (to the President) since" that time. The corporate media then claimed pro-government supporters instigated street violence and fired on "unarmed" opposition protesters. In fact, that was later proved a lie as anti-Chavez "snipers" did the firing as part of the plot that became the coup. A similar scheme may now be unfolding in Caracas and on other campuses around the country as well.

In his public comments, Foreign Minister Maduro accused the major media and CNN of misrepresenting events and poisoning the political atmosphere. It's happening in Venezuela and the US as the dominant media attacks Hugo Chavez through a campaign of vilification and black propaganda.

US Corporate Media on the Attack

On November 12, The Venezuela Information Office (VIO) reported that growing numbers of "US print newspapers lodged attacks against Venezuela" using "outdated cold-war generalizations" and without explaining any of the proposed democratic changes. Among others, they came from the Houston Chronicle that claimed:

-- constitutional reforms will "eliminate the vestiges of democracy" in Venezuela when, in fact, they'll strengthen it, and the people will vote them up or down;

-- Chavez controls the electoral system when, in fact, Venezuela is a model free, fair and open democracy that shames its US equivalent. The Chronicle falsely said reforms will strip people of their right to due process. In fact, that's guaranteed under article 337 that won't be changed.

VIO also reported on a Los Angeles Times editorial comparing Chavez to Bin Laden. It compounded that whopper by claiming reforms will cause a global recession due to higher oil prices that, of course, have nothing to do with changes in law. In another piece, the LA Times inverted the truth by falsely claiming a public majority opposes reforms. Then there's the Miami Herald predicting an end to freedom of expression if changes pass and the Washington Post commenting on how high oil prices let Chavez buy influence.

The Post then ran an inflamatory November 15 editorial headlined "Mr. Chavez's Coup" if which it lied by saying November 7 student protesters "were fired on by gunmen (whom) university officials later 'identified'....as members of government-sponsored 'paramilitary groups' when, in fact, there are no such groups. The editorial went on to say Chavez wants to "complete his transformation into an autocrat (to be able to) seize property....dispose of Venezuela's foreign exchange reserves....impose central government rule on local jurisdictions and declare indefinite states of emergency" as well as suspend due process and freedom of information. Again, misinformation, deliberate distortion and outright lies from a leading quasi-official US house organ.

Rupert Murdock's Wall Street Journal weighed in as well with its lead anti-Chavez attack dog and all-round character assassin extraordinaire, Mary Anastasia O'Grady. This writer has tangled with her several times before and earlier commented how one day she'll have a serious back problem because of her rigid position of genuflection to the most extreme hard-right elements she supports. Her latest November 12 column was vintage O'Grady and headlined "More Trouble for Chavez (as) Students and former allies unite against his latest power grab."

Like most of her others, this one drips with vitriol and outrageous distortions like calling Chavez a "dictator" when, in fact, he's a model democrat, but that's the problem for writers like O'Grady. Absent the facts, they use agitprop instead. O'Grady writes: "Mr. Chavez has been working to remove any counterbalances to his power for almost nine years (and) has met strong resistance from property owners, businesses, labor leaders, the Catholic Church and the media." Now add opposition well-off students. Omitted is that the opposition is a minority, it represents elitist interests, and Chavez has overwhelming public support for his social democracy and proposed reform changes including from most students O'Grady calls "pro-Chavez goons."

Once again, she's on a rampage, but that's her job. She claims the absurd and people believe her - like saying the media will be censored, civil liberties can be suspended, and government will be empowered to seize private property. He's a "demagogue," says O'Grady, waging "class warfare," but opposition to reform "has led to increased speculation (his) days are numbered." Wishing won't make it so, and O'Grady uses that line all the time.

The New York Times is also on the attack in its latest anti-Chavez crusade. It's been a leading Chavez critic for years, and Simon Romero is its man in Caracas. On November 3, he reported "Lawmakers in Venezuela Approve Expanded Power for Chavez (in a) constitutional overhaul (to) enhance (Chavez's) authority, (allow) him to be reelected indefinitely, and (give) him the power to handpick rulers, to be called vice-presidents, (and) for various new regions to be created in the country....The new amendments would facilitate expropriations of private property (and allow state) security forces to round up citizens (stripped of their) legal protections" if Chavez declares a state of emergency - to make him look like Pakistan's Musharraf when he's mirror opposite.

Romero also quoted Jose Manuel Gonzales, president of Venezuela's Fedecamaras (chamber of commerce), saying "Venezuelan democracy was buried today" and anti-Chavez Roman Catholic church leaders (always allied with elitists) calling the changes "morally unacceptable." Then on November 8, Romero followed with an article titled "Gunmen Attack Opponents of Chavez's Bid to Extend Power" and implied they were pro-Chavez supporters. Again false. Still more came on November 10 headlined "Students Emerge as a Leading Force Against Chavez" in an effort to imply most students oppose him when, in fact, these elements are a minority.

His latest so far is on November 17 titled "Chavez's Vision Shares Wealth and Centers Power" that in fairness shows the President addressing a huge crowd of supporters in Maturin on November 16. But Romero spoiled it by calling his vision "centralized, oil-fueled socialism (with) Chavez (having) significantly enhanced powers." Then he quotes Chavez biographer Alberto Barrera Tyszka who embarrassed himself and Romero saying the President is seizing and redirecting "power through legitimate means (and this) is not a dictatorship but something more complex," the 'tyranny' of popularity." In other words, he's saying democracy is "tyranny." The rest of the article is just as bad with alternating subtle and hammer blow attacks against a popular President's aim to deepen his socially democratic agenda and help his people.

Romero's measured tone outclasses O'Grady's crudeness that's pretty standard fare on the Journal's notorious opinion page. He's much more dangerous, however, with a byline in the influential "newspaper of record" because of the important audience it commands.

One other notable anti-Chavez piece is in the November 26 issue of the magazine calling itself "the capitalist tool" - Forbes. It shows in its one-sided commentary and intolerance of opposing views. The article in question, headlined "Latin Sinkholes," is by right wing economist and long-time flack for empire, Steve Hanke. In it, he aims right at Chavez with outrageous comments like calling him a "negative reformer (who) turned back the clock (and) hails Cuba, the largest open-air prison in the Americas, as his model. His revolution's enemy is the marketplace." He then cites a World Bank report saying "Venezuela is tied with Zimbabwe as this year's champion in smothering economic freedom," and compounds that lie with another whopper.

Point of fact - Venezuela and Argentina have the highest growth rates in the region and are near the top of world rankings in recent years. Following the devastating oil management 2002-03 lockout, Venezuela's economy took off and grew at double digit rates in 2004, 05 and 06 and will grow a likely 8% this year. Hanke, however, says "Venezuela's economic performance under Chavez has been anemic (growing) at an average rate of only 2% per year. In the same article, he aims in similar fashion at Ecuador's Raphael Correa calling him "ruthlessly efficient (for wanting to) pull off a Bolivarian Revolution in Ecuador." Hanke and most others in the dominant media are of one mind and never let facts contradict their opinions. Outliers won't be tolerated even when it's proved their way works best.

There's lots more criticism like this throughout the dominant media along with commentators calling Chavez "a dictator, another Hitler (and) a threat to democracy." Ignoring the rules of imperial management has a price. This type media assault is part of it as a prelude for what often follows - attempted regime change.

Further Venezuela Information Office (VIO) Clarification of Facts on the Ground

On November 15, VIO issued an alert update to dispel media inaccuracies "about Venezuela's constitutional reforms and the student protests" accompanying them. They're listed below:

-- Caracas has a student population of around 200,000; at most 10,000 participated in the largest protest to date, and VIO estimates it was 6000;

-- the major media ignore how the government cooperates with students and made various accommodations to them to be fair to the opposition;

-- Venezuelan police have protected student protesters, and article 68 of the Constitution requires they do it; it affirms the right of all Venezuelans to assemble peacefully;

-- in addition, student protest leaders linked to opposition parties were granted high-level meetings with government officials to present their concerns;

-- on November 1, their student representatives met with directors of the National Electoral Council (CNE) and presented a petition to delay the referendum;

-- on November 7, they again met with National Tribunal of Justice officials and presented the same petition;

-- on November 12, Minister of Interior and Justice Minister, Pedro Carreno, met 20 university presidents to assure them the government respects university autonomy and their students' right to assemble peacefully;

-- VIO reported what really happened at another November 1 protest after students met with CNE officials; some of them then tried to chain themselves to the building while others charged through police lines and injured six officers; in addition, one student had 20 liters of gasoline but never got to use it criminally; after the incident, the CNE president, Tibisay Lucena, issued a public statement expressing his disappointment about this kind of response to the government's good faith efforts; and

-- VIO said students and university presidents from across the nation filed a document with the Supreme Court on November 14 supporting constitutional reform. Chief justice Luisa Estela Morales praised their coming and said the court's doors are open to anyone wanting to give an opinion. The dominant media reported nothing on this. It also ignored the government's 9000 public events throughout the country in past weeks to explain and discuss proposed reforms and that a hotline was installed for comments on them, pro or con.

-- finally, when protests of any kind happen in the US, police usually attack them with tear gas, beatings and mass arrests to crush their democratic spirit and prevent it from being expressed as our Constitution's First and most important amendment guarantees. In Venezuela, the spirit of democracy lives. It never existed in the US, and we want to export our way to everyone and by force if necessary.

Here's a November 15 breaking news example of our way in action. At 8:00AM, 12 FBI and Secret Service agents raided the Liberty Dollar Company's office in Evansville, IN and for the next six hours removed two tons of legal Ron Paul Dollars along with all the gold, silver and platinum at the location. They also took all location files and computers and froze Liberty Dollar's bank accounts in an outrageous police state action against a legitimate business. This move also seems intended to impugn the integrity of a presidential candidate gaining popularity because he defies the bellicose mainstream and wants more people empowerment.

Chavez champions another way and answered his critics at a November 14 Miraflores Presidential Palace press conference where he denounced them for lying about his reform package. He explained his aim is to strengthen Venezuela's independence and transfer power to the people, not increase his own. "For many years in Venezuela," he said, "they weakened the powers of the state as part of the neoliberal imperial plan....to weaken the economies of countries to insure domination. While we remained weak, imperialism was strengthened," and he elaborated.

He then continued to stress his most important reform "is the transfer of power to the people" through an explosion of grassroots communal, worker, student and campesino councils, formations of them into regional and national federations, and the formation of "communes (to) constitute the basic nucleus of the socialist state." Earlier Chavez stated that democratizing the economy "is the only way to defeat poverty, to defeat misery and achieve the largest sum of happiness for the people." He's not just saying this. He believes and acts on it, and that's why elitists target him for removal even though he wants equity for everyone, even his critics, and business continues to thrive under his government. But not like in the "good old" days when it was all one-way.

Venezuelan Business is Booming - So Why Complain?

Business in Venezuela is indeed booming, and in 2006 the Financial Times said bankers were "having a party" it was so good. So what's the problem? It's not good enough for corporate interests wanting it all for themselves and nothing for the people the way it used to be pre-Chavez. Unfair? Sure, but in a corporate-dominated world, that's how it is and no outliers are tolerated. Thus Hugo Chavez's dilemma.

Last June, Business Week (BW) magazine captured the mood in an article called "A Love-Hate Relationship with Chavez - Companies are chafing under the fiery socialist. But in some respects, business has never been better." Writer Geri Smith asked: "Just how hard is it to do business in Venezuela" and then exaggerated by saying "hardly a day passes without another change in the rules restricting companies." Hardly so, but what is true is new rules require a more equitable relationship between government and business. They provide more benefits to the people and greater attention to small Venezuelan business and other commercial undertakings like an explosion of cooperatives (100,000 or more) that under neoliberal rules have no chance against the giants.

Nonetheless, the economy under Chavez is booming, and business loves it even while it complains. It's because oil revenues are high, Chavez spends heavily on social benefits, and the poor have seen their incomes more than double since 2004 when all their benefits are included. The result, as BW explains: "Sales of everything from basics" to luxury items "have taken off....and local and foreign companies alike are raking in more money than ever in Venezuela." In addition, bilateral trade has never been higher, but American business complains it's caught in the middle of a Washington - Caracas political struggle.

The article continues to show how all kinds of foreign business is benefitting from cola to cars to computer chips. Yet, it restates the dilemma saying "As Chavez continues his socialist crusade, there are signs of rising discontent," and it's showing up now on the country's streets with the latest confrontation still to be resolved, one way or another.

Events Are Ugly and Coming to A Head

Through the dominant media, Washington and Venezuelan anti-Chavez elements are using constitutional reform as a pretext for what they may have in mind - "to arouse the military to intervene" and oust Chavez, as Petras notes in his article titled "Venezuela: Between Ballots and Bullets." He explains the opposition "rich and privileged (coalition) fear constitutional reforms because they will have to grant a greater share of their (considerable) profits to the working class, lose their monopoly over market transactions to publicly owned firms, and see political power evolve toward local community councils and the executive branch."

Petras is worried and says "class polarization....has reached its most extreme expression" as December 2 approaches: "the remains of the multi-class coalition embracing a minority of the middle class and the great majority of (workers) is disintegrating (and) political defections have increased (including 14) deputies in the National Assembly." Add to them former Chavez Defense Minister, Raul Baduel, who Petras believes may be "an aspirant to head up a US-backed right-wing seizure of power."

The situation is ugly and dangerous, and lots of US money and influence fuels it. Petras puts it this way: "Venezuelan democracy, the Presidency of Hugo Chavez and the great majority of the popular classes face a mortal threat." An alliance between Washington, local oligarchs and elitist supporters of the "right" are committed to ousting Chavez and may feel now is their best chance. Venezuela's social democracy is on the line in the crucial December 2 vote, and the entire region depends on it solidifying and surviving.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen (at) sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Steve Lendman News and Information Hour on TheMicroEffect.com Mondays at noon US Central time.
See also:
http://sjlendman.blogspot.com

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Bostons Own Albert Einstien Institute Behind Regime Overthrow in VENEZUELA
21 Nov 2007
Gene Sharp The Albert Einstein Institute 427 Newbury Street Boston Ma.
http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?address=427%20Newbury%20St&city=Bos=
PO BOX 455, East Boston, MA 02128 USA tel: 617.247.4882 fax: 617.247.4035 email: einstein (at) igc.org

When the CIA-organized-coup against Venezuela failed in April 2002, the State Department counted again on the Albert Einstein Institution which advised the owners of enterprises during the organization of the revocatory referendum against President Hugo Chávez. Gene Sharp and his team led the leaders of Súmate during the demonstrations of August 2004. As done before, the only thing they had to do was questioning the electoral results and demanding the resignation of the president. They managed to get the bourgeoisie out in the street but Chavez’s popular government was to strong. All in all, international observers had no other choice but to recognize Hugo Chávez’s victory.
http://www.voltairenet.org/article30032.html

VENEZUELA
Promoting ‘democracy’ through civil disobedience

Michael Barker
25 August 2007


In GLW #718, Jack Duvall, the president of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC), published a letter in response to a couple of “errors” Eva Gollinger made in her interview “US continues destabilisation push in Venezuela” in GLW #716. Duvall denied accusations that his group had been involved in training activist groups involved in the recent “color revolutions” in Eastern Europe, and in opposing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. However, Duvall does admit in his letter that in March 2005 the ICNC “gave support to the [Albert] Einstein Institute for a workshop it conducted on nonviolent action for Venezuelans, [which was] held in Boston”.
http://www.greenleft.org.au/2007/722/37496
CIA Operation "Pliers" Uncovered in Venezuela
30 Nov 2007
An internal CIA memorandum has been obtained by Venezuelan counterintelligence from the US Embassy in Caracas that reveals a very sinister - almost fantastical, were it not true - plan to destabilize Venezuela during the coming days. The plan, titled "OPERATION PLIERS" was authored by CIA Officer Michael Middleton Steere and was addressed to CIA Director General Michael Hayden in Washington. Steere is stationed at the US Embassy in Caracas under the guise of a Regional Affairs Officer. The internal memorandum, dated November 20, 2007, references the "Advances of the Final Stage of Operation Pliers", and confirms that the operation is coordinated by the team of Human Intelligence (HUMINT) in Venezuela. The memo summarizes the different scenarios that the CIA has been working on in Venezuela for the upcoming referendum vote on December 2nd. The Electoral Scenario, as it's phrased, confirms that the voting tendencies will not change substantially before Sunday, December 2nd, and that the SI (YES) vote in favor of the constitutional reform has an advantage of about 10-13 points over the NO vote. The CIA estimates abstention around 60% and states in the memo that this voting tendency is irreversible before the elections.
CIA Operation "Pliers" Uncovered in Venezuela
November 28th 2007, by Eva Golinger

An internal CIA memorandum has been obtained by Venezuelan counterintelligence from the US Embassy in Caracas that reveals a very sinister - almost fantastical, were it not true - plan to destabilize Venezuela during the coming days. The plan, titled "OPERATION PLIERS" was authored by CIA Officer Michael Middleton Steere and was addressed to CIA Director General Michael Hayden in Washington. Steere is stationed at the US Embassy in Caracas under the guise of a Regional Affairs Officer. The internal memorandum, dated November 20, 2007, references the "Advances of the Final Stage of Operation Pliers", and confirms that the operation is coordinated by the team of Human Intelligence (HUMINT) in Venezuela. The memo summarizes the different scenarios that the CIA has been working on in Venezuela for the upcoming referendum vote on December 2nd. The Electoral Scenario, as it's phrased, confirms that the voting tendencies will not change substantially before Sunday, December 2nd, and that the SI (YES) vote in favor of the constitutional reform has an advantage of about 10-13 points over the NO vote. The CIA estimates abstention around 60% and states in the memo that this voting tendency is irreversible before the elections.

Officer Steere emphasizes the importance and success of the public relations and propaganda campaign that the CIA has been funding with more than $8 million during the past month - funds that the CIA confirms are transfered through the USAID contracted company, Development Alternatives, Inc., which set up operations in June 2002 to run the USAID Office for Transition Initiatives that funds and advises opposition NGOs and political parties in Venezuela. The CIA memo specifically refers to these propaganda initiatives as "psychological operations" (PSYOPS), that include contracting polling companies to create fraudulent polls that show the NO vote with an advantage over the SI vote, which is false. The CIA also confirms in the memo that it is working with international press agencies to distort the data and information about the referendum, and that it coordinates in Venezuela with a team of journalists and media organized and directed by the President of Globovision, Alberto Federico Ravell.

CIA Officer Michael Steere recommends to General Michael Hayden two different strategies to work simultaneously: Impede the referendum and refuse to recognize the results once the SI vote wins. Though these strategies appear contradictory, Steere claims that they must be implemented together precisely to encourage activities that aim toward impeding the referendum and at the same time prepare the conditions for a rejection of the results.

How is this to be done?

In the memo, the CIA proposes the following tactics and actions:

Take the streets and protest with violent, disruptive actions across the nation
Generate a climate of ungovernability
Provoke a general uprising in a substantial part of the population
Engage in a "plan to implode" the voting centers on election day by encouraging opposition voters to "VOTE and REMAIN" in their centers to agitate others
Start to release data during the early hours of the afternoon on Sunday that favor the NO vote (in clear violation of election regulations)
Coordinate these activities with Ravell & Globovision and international press agencies
Coordinate with ex-militar officers and coupsters Pena Esclusa and Guyon Cellis - this will be done by the Military Attache for Defense and Army at the US Embassy in Caracas, Office of Defense, Attack and Operations (DAO)

To encourage rejection of the results, the CIA proposes:

Creating an acceptance in the public opinion that the NO vote will win for sure
Using polling companies contracted by the CIA
Criticize and discredit the National Elections Council
Generate a sensation of fraud
Use a team of experts from the universities that will talk about how the data from the Electoral Registry has been manipulated and will build distrust in the voting system

The CIA memo also talks about:

Isolating Chavez in the international community
Trying to achieve unity amongst the opposition
Seek an aliance between those abstentionists and those who will vote "NO"
Sustain firmly the propaganda against Chavez
Execute military actions to support the opposition mobilizations and propagandistic occupations
Finalize the operative preparations on the US military bases in Curacao and Colombia to provide support to actions in Venezuela
Control a part of the country during the next 72-120 hours
Encourage a military rebellion inside the National Guard forces and other components

Those involved in these actions as detailed in the CIA memo are:

The CIA Office in Venezuela - Office of Regional Affairs, and Officer Michael Steere
US Embassy in Venezuela, Ambassador Patrick Duddy
Office of Defense, Attack and Operations (DAO) at the US Embassy in Caracas and Military Attache Richard Nazario
Venezuelan Political Parties:

Comando Nacional de la Resistencia
Accion Democratica
Primero Justicia
Bandera Roja

Media:

Alberto Federico Ravell & Globovision
Interamerican Press Society (IAPA) or SIP in Spanish
International Press Agencies

Venezuelans:

Pena Esclusa
Guyon Cellis
Dean of the Simon Bolivar University, Rudolph Benjamin Podolski
Dean of the Andres Bello Catholic University, Ugalde
Students: Yon Goicochea, Juan Mejias, Ronel Gaglio, Gabriel Gallo, Ricardo Sanchez

Operation Tenaza has the objective of encouraging an armed insurrection in Venezuela against the government of President Chavez that will justify an intervention of US forces, stationed on the military bases nearby in Curacao and Colombia. The Operation mentions two countries in code: as Blue and Green. These refer to Curacao and Colombia, where the US has operative, active and equipped bases that have been reinforced over the past year and a half in anticipation of a conflict with Venezuela.

The document confirms that psychological operations are the CIA's best and most effective weapon to date against Venezuela, and it will continue its efforts to influence international public opinion regarding President Chavez and the situation in the country.

Operation Tenaza is a very alarming plan that aims to destabilize Venezuela and overthrow (again) its legitimate and democratic (and very popularly support) president. The plan will fail, primarily because it has been discovered, but it must be denounced around the world as an unacceptable violation of Venezuela's sovereignty.

The original document in English will be available in the public sphere soon for viewing and authenticating purposes. And it also contains more information than has been revealed here.

For the full text in Spanish, see: Operación Tenaza: Informe confidencial de la CIA devela plan de saboteo al referéndum del 2 de diciembre

Source URL: www.chavezcode.com/2007/11/operation-pliers.html
Source URL: www.venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/2914
Printed: November 29th 2007
" Exercising the authoritarian reflex"
01 Dec 2007
Albert Einstein Institution
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The Albert Einstein Institution as described in its own website:

Founded in 1983 by Dr. Gene Sharp, The Albert Einstein Institution is dedicated to advancing the study and use of strategic nonviolent action in conflicts throughout the world. It is committed to the defense of freedom, democracy, and the reduction of political violence through the use of nonviolent action.
To further its mission, the Institution has supported research projects (for examples, see our publications section), actively consulted with resistance and pro-democracy groups (including groups in Burma, Thailand, Tibet, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Belarus, Serbia, and the Occupied Territories), and worked to publicize the power and potential of nonviolent struggle around the world through educational materials, analyses, translations, workshops, and media visibility.[1]

An alternative description is:

The Albert Einstein Institution (AEI) has played the key role in recent years in training and deploying youth movements to help prepare the conditions for coups through fostering the impression that the targeted regimes are deeply unpopular, and through destabilizing those regimes through their demonstrations and the like. The group, which is funded by the Soros foundations and the US government, is led by former DIA officer Col. Robert Helvey, and Harvard University's Dr. Gene Sharp.[Mowat, [2]]

In q989, "The Einstein Institution’s Board of Directors, meeting in September, approved a grant of $6,000 to the Civilian-Based Defense Association, a one hundred percent increase over last year’s funding level. The grant is specifically to provide general support for the production and distribution of the Association’s newsletter, Civilian-Based Defense: News and Opinion." [1]

In 1995, AEI noted that "The Program on Nonviolent Sanctions, which receives financial support from the Albert Einstein Institution, has now joined with the Cultural Survival Center, the research arm of Cultural Survival, a human rights organization, to run the Program on Nonviolent Sanctions and Cultural Survival (PNSCS) at Harvard University’s Center for International Affairs." [2]

Swarming Adolescents

Some of this institute's activities were recently described in an article about the recent coup in Ukraine:

The creation and deployment of coups of any kind requires agents on the ground. The main handler of these coups on the "street side" has been the Albert Einstein Institution, which was formed in 1983 as an offshot of Harvard University under the impetus of Dr. Gene Sharp, and which specializes in "nonviolence as a form of warfare." Dr. Sharp had been the executive secretary of A.J. Muste, the famous U.S. Trotskyite labor organizer and peacenik. The group is funded by Soros and the NED. Albert Einstein's president is Col. Robert Helvey, a former US Army officer with 30 years of experience in Southeast Asia. He has served as the case officer for youth groups active in the Balkans and Eastern Europe since at least 1999.
Col. Helvey reports, in a January 29, 2001, interview with film producer Steve York in Belgrade, that he first got involved in "strategic nonviolence" upon seeing the failure of military approaches to toppling dictators—especially in Myanmar, where he had been stationed as military attaché—and seeing the potential of Sharp's alternative approach. According to B. Raman, the former director of India's foreign intelligence agency, RAW, in a December 2001 paper published by his institute entitled, "The USA's National Endowment For Democracy (NED): An Update," Helvey "was an officer of the Defence Intelligence Agency of the Pentagon, who had served in Vietnam and, subsequently, as the US Defence Attache in Yangon, Myanmar (1983 to 85), during which he clandestinely organised the Myanmarese students to work behind Aung San Suu Kyi and in collaboration with Bo Mya's Karen insurgent group. . . . He also trained in Hong Kong the student leaders from Beijing in mass demonstration techniques which they were to subsequently use in the Tiananmen Square incident of June 1989" and "is now believed to be acting as an adviser to the Falun Gong, the religious sect of China, in similar civil disobedience techniques." Col. Helvey nominally retired from the army in 1991, but had been working with Albert Einstein and Soros long before then.[3]

And there are more:

As we shall see below, with such backing, Col. Helvey and his colleagues have created a series of youth movements including Otpor! in Serbia, Kmara! in Georgia, Pora! in Ukraine, and the like, which are already virally replicating other sects throughout the former Soviet Union, achieving in civilian form what had not been possible militarily in the 1980s. The groups are also spreading to Africa and South America.[ibid.]

[edit]
Funding

Between 2000 to 2004 they received some funding from:

* Arca Foundation
* California Community Foundation
* Greenville Foundation
* Mertz-Gilmore Foundation
* Miriam G. and Ira D. Wallach Foundation

Report on Activities 2000 to 2004 (pdf)

Between 1993 and 1999 they received funding from:

* Arca Foundation
* Burma Project of the Open Society Institute
* Compton Foundation
* C.S. Fund
* Ford Foundation
* Friedrich Naumann Stiftung
* Greenville Foundation
* International Republican Institute
* Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust
* Joyce Mertz-Gilmore Foundation
* National Endowment for Democracy
* New York Friends Group
* Olof Palme International Centre
* Ploughshares Fund
* United States Institute for Peace

pdf
[edit]
People
[edit]
Principals

* Robert Helvey – (Col., Defence Intelligence Agency)
* Edward Atkeson – (Major General, US Army) advisor
* Peter Ackerman – advisor

[edit]
Board of Directors

* Bob Helvey – President
* Cornelia Sargent – Chair
* Elizabeth Defeis
* Mary King
* Gene Sharp
* Curt Goering

Director 2000 [3]

* Peter Ackerman
* Elizabeth F. Defeis
* Curt Goering
* Chester Haskell
* Joanne Leedom-Ackerman
* Dr. Stephen Marks
* Hazel M. McFerson
* Thomas C. Schelling
* Gene Sharp
* Martin Teitel

Former Directors

* Hazel M. McFerson former chair [4]
* "*In 1994 “At the Albert Einstein Institution’s annual meeting in July, the board of directors elected Elizabeth F. Defeis as its new chair. She succeeds Thomas C. Schelling, who served as the board’s chair for five years… The board also re-elected Christopher Kruegler as president, and elected Hazel M. McFerson as secretary-treasurer. At its fall meeting, the board of directors will welcome a new member," Dr. Stephen Marks.[4]
* Richard Rockwell - 1994/95 [5]

[edit]
Staff

* Gene Sharp – Senior Scholar
* Hardy Merriman – Assistant to the Senior Scholar/Media and Outreach Coordinator
* Jamila Raqib – Office Manager/Translations Coordinator
* Emilie Amstutz – Development Officer
* Chris Miller

Staff 2000 [5]

* Bruce Jenkins served as Executive Director of The Albert Einstein Institution from 1995-2000. [6]
* Gene Sharp
* Stephen Coady - Administrative Coordinator
* Ronald M. McCarthy - Director Fellows Program
* Chris Miller - Program Assistant

Former Staff

* Connie Grice - Executive Director from 1986 to 1988

[edit]
Advisors (1993-1999)

* Maj. Gen. Edward B. Atkeson (ret.)
* Philip Bogdonoff
* I. Roberto Eisenmann
* Dr. Efrain Garza Fuentes
* Rabbi Everrett Gendler
* Prof. Donald Horowitz
* Prof. Robin Remington Wallace
* Admiral Gene R. La Rocque (ret.)
* Prof. Adam Roberts
* William Spencer
* Prof. Hisham Sharabi
* David Szanton
* Peter Szanton
* William Langer Ury

pdf

Former Advisors

* James Farmer - 1994/95 [7]

[edit]
Affiliations

* NED – funding source
* Soros Foundation – funding source

[edit]
Contact

The Albert Einstein Institution
427 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02115
USA
Phone: USA +617-247-4882
Fax: USA +617-247-4035
E-mail at: einstein AT igc.org
Website: http://www.aeinstein.org
[edit]
Resources and articles
[edit]
SourceWatch Resources

* Swarming Youths
* Otpor
* Uche Ewelukwa
* Howard Clark

[edit]
References

1. ↑ Nonviolent Sanctions Newsletter, AEI, 1989.
2. ↑ Nonviolent Sanctions Newsletter, AEI, Spring 1995.
3. ↑ Nonviolent Struggle, AEI, vol 7. no. 1.m Fall 2000.
4. ↑ AEI, “Nonviolent Sanctions”, vol. 6, no. 3 Winter 1994/95.
5. ↑ Nonviolent Struggle, AEI, vol 7. no. 1.m Fall 2000.

[edit]
External Resources

* Jonathan Mowat, "The new Gladio in action?: Ukrainian postmodern coup completes testing of new template", Online Journal, March 19, 2005. Contains references to the role played by AEI in Ukraine.
* Jonathan Mowat, "Who is Col. Bob Helvey?", Online Journal, March 19, 2005. Contains discussion of the instigator of AEI.
* Jonathan Mowat, "The Coup Plotters: The Albert Einstein Institution", Online Journal, March 19, 2005. Contains discussion of AEI.
* Thierry Meyssan, "The Albert Einstein Institution: non-violence according to the CIA", Voltairenet, January 4, 2005.

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